Two of the premier athletic and lifestyle brands on the planet — “athleisure” wear retailer Lululemon and exercise equipment maker Peloton — are locking horns over product designs, and that fight has now spilled over into court. In early November, Lululemon sent a cease-and-desist letter to Peloton stating that it would sue Peloton unless Peloton stopped selling “copy-cat” Lululemon products. On November 29, Lululemon made good on its promise, suing Peloton for patent infringement and arguing that the designs for some of its leggings and sports bras infringed six of Lululemon’s design patents. Brush up on the case with the help of an Alabama intellectual property lawyer below.
Lululemon vs. Peloton
The patent infringement lawsuit marks the endpoint for what was once an amicable relationship between the parties. In 2016, the companies embarked on a co-branding venture for athletic wear that featured both companies’ logos. The arrangement allowed Peloton to sell high-end sportswear while allowing Lululemon to tap into Peloton’s affluent customer base. That arrangement ended in September 2021, and Peloton subsequently began making its own apparel in-house.
Lululemon alleges that several items of Peloton’s apparel — including the Strappy Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Legging and One Luxe Tight — infringe six of its patents. It also alleged that Peloton infringed its trade dress for its Align legging. A spokesperson for Lululemon stated that “Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knockoffs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own.” In reply, Peloton said in a statement that its apparel “has clear and obvious differences that allow the products to be easily distinguished” from Lululemon’s products.
What Are the Stakes?
Economically, the Lululemon/Peloton dispute is a classic example of the acrimony that can arise when two companies that were formerly partners become competitors. Previously, there was not much overlap between the products each company offered — Lululemon exclusively sold athletic wear and Peloton exclusively sold exercise equipment. However, in 2020, Lululemon acquired Mirror in a bid to expand its footprint into the rapidly expanding, pandemic-induced home exercise industry. Peloton also expanded its footprint into the similarly growing athleisure segment by marketing its own Peloton-branded activewear. The two companies that once had nothing to fear from each other are now staking out their own turf in the same industry.
Legally, a finding of patent infringement could deal a huge financial blow to Peloton because Lululemon is arguing that Peloton willfully infringed its patents — a much more serious claim than standard patent infringement. Willful infringement occurs where the defendant knew its actions were in violation of another’s patent rather than being the result of an honest mistake. A finding of willful infringement allows the court to award up to three times the amount of the plaintiff’s actual damages, which could result in a costly verdict for Peloton.
Contact an Alabama Intellectual Property Attorney
For more information about the Lululemon/Peloton case — or any other patent infringement matter — please contact an Alabama intellectual property attorney at AdamsIP by calling 251-289-9787 or by using our online contact form. We serve clients throughout Alabama including Mobile, Huntsville, and Birmingham.